Pretty Tricky: The Sneaky Way Plants Survive

Written By: Etta Kaner

Illustrated by: Ashley Barron

For Ages: 8-12 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Plants, Biology, Botany, Pint-Sized Professor, Nature.


How much do you think about plants? For us, that answer is “all the time”. Do you think about how tough they must be to be walked all over and chewed on? Pretty Tricky teaches readers all about the unique adaptations plants have developed to not just survive, but thrive. I’ve been really excited to read this book since I saw that it was coming out, and it definitely did not disappoint!

Traveling all over the world, we learn about lots of rare functions that help plants reproduce, pollinated, blooming, and even trap beetles! I’m in love with these illustrations, they’re gorgeous and colorful. Bright colored leaves and flowers spill over the pages while readers learn about plants that play dead, house stinging ants, and even explode pollen all over birds! Having the text bites giving stats about the plants featured is helpful to not be overwhelmed by paragraphs. There’s also an index and a glossary in back, and a list of sources. I was completely enamored by all of the facts within these pages, and I hope the young botanist in your life is as well.

This book was kindly sent to us by OwlKids Books, but all opinions are my own. Pretty Tricky is being released tomorrow!

Etta Kaner

Etta Kaner writes for both children and educators. While the majority of her children’s books are nonfiction, some of her more recent books are a combination of fiction and nonfiction. Many of them have been translated into other languages. A number of her books have won awards, namely the Silver Birch Award, the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award, the Animal Behavior Society’s Outstanding Children’s Book Award, the Scientific American Young Readers Book Award and the Science in Society Book Award.

While her earlier books were inspired by her two daughters, many of her later books were inspired by the elementary school students whom she taught.

Etta loves to interview experts in fields with which she is unfamiliar, either in person or by phone. She finds that most people are very cooperative and love to talk about their area of interest and expertise. During these interviews, she often accumulates more information than she needs for her book. When making a decision as to what to include in the book, she uses the “wow” test. She tries to choose information that will make her readers say “wow” when they read it. 

Writing books also allows Etta to create the many groaners that she likes to make up but which are not always appreciated by her family!

When she’s not writing or teaching, Etta loves to spend time with her family (her husband and two grown daughters), garden, read humorous or historical fiction books, dance, explore new places, go to live theater and cook for company (but not all at the same time!). She does all of these activities in Toronto, Canada.

Ashley Barron

Ashley Barron is a multimedia artist who is best known for her paper collage work. She is the illustrator of several children’s books, including Kids Can Press’s Birthdays Around the World and My Forest is Green.

Ashley grew up in the Oshawa/Whitby region of southern Ontario with her parents, younger sister and their many pet dogs and rabbits. Ashley’s love for books was ignited at an early age thanks to her mother, a preschool teacher, who kept an extensive collection of children’s literature in their spare bedroom. Although Ashley was very much an outdoorsy kid, she savored rainy indoor days, which allowed her the freedom to daydream, read and draw pictures to her heart’s content.

Ashley’s love for art and literature followed her into adulthood. She graduated from the illustration program at Ontario Collage of Art & Design in 2007 and has been working as a freelance illustrator ever since.

Ashley lives in Toronto with her cinematographer partner, Kevin. Together they share a bright, plant-filled studio with their two cats.

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